Breaking Eggs And Making Omelettes

Topics On Multimedia Technology and Reverse Engineering


Dear Nano

November 4th, 2007 by Multimedia Mike

Dear Nano: You know I love you. You are the GPL’d heir to the old UW-Pine-derived Pico editor, my text-editing savior when I was unceremoniously thrust onto the Unix command line early in my computer science education and told to write a program.

However, clever error messages may seem funny to you but are actually aggravating to the end user due to their failure to actually articulate what went wrong:

GNU Nano - Be Reasonable

This is not helpful when a user is trying to be productive and honestly has no idea what misstep just occurred. Fortunately, I have been using using GNU Nano long enough to know that “Come on, be reasonable” usually means that, rather than pressing Ctrl-W to search for text, I mistakenly pressed Ctrl-/ (go to line number) and entered a non-numeric value.

I wonder if non-English-speaking users have to put up with the same error message? Using my limited ability to interpret non-English languages, I delved into the .po files in the Nano source. Well, what do you know?


msgid "Come on, be reasonable"
msgstr "Komm schon, sei vernünftig"


msgid "Come on, be reasonable"
msgstr "Allez, soyez raisonnable"


msgid "Come on, be reasonable"
msgstr "Avanti, sii ragionevole"

This is especially egregious since “come on” is literally translated and I doubt that the idiom has the same connotation in other languages.

Thankfully, a brief perusal of the other msgid strings does not immediately reveal any other unintuitive errors. As a bonus, I just figured out that Nano must have a bracket-matching feature due the presence of such strings as “Not a bracket” and “No matching bracket”.

Posted in General | 4 Comments »

4 Responses

  1. Kostya Says:

    Hopelessly stuck with MC editor (well, a bit of vi sometimes).

    And about translations – you’re extremely lucky because you don’t like in a country where most games are localized by extra cheap efforts. “All your base are belongs to us” is nothing compared to some pearls generated by automatic translation (and sometimes they are voiced!). For example, (from Russian) “cashier of wealth” (in original it was “fortune teller”). That’s the reason I always try to find original game/book instead of translated one.

  2. Diego Biurrun Says:

    “Komm schon” has the same meaning, even the same connotation, in German as it has in English. I’m not entirely sure about French and Italian, but I think it is not very far off the mark.

  3. Reimar Says:

    Ah, game translations. Reminds me of some Star Trek game where one of the “official” videos of the final fight featured the enemy saying after final defeat “wir sollten umkehren” (would translate to something like “we should turn back”).
    What the English version said obviously was “we shall return”.
    I just stopped buying games completely because the English versions are such a pain to get and the translations are a mess despite Germany being a rather big market (and I don’t have time for it anyway, plus they don’t run on Linux ;-) ).

  4. Frogz Says:

    “Allez” means the same thing as “come on”